Alcohol is a famous pastime for many people who enjoy relaxing after a hard day of work. Stats show that more than 80% of people above the age of 18 in the United States have consumed alcohol at one time in their lives. But, what happens if you are responsible for transporting important cargo and you’re always on the road? Can truck drivers drink even if they have a day off?
Truck drivers are allowed to consume alcohol off duty, but they are prohibited from drinking alcohol four hours before their duty starts, which refers to all tasks, including driving. In addition, while being on duty, their maximum blood alcohol level may be no more than 0.04%
Transporters who make use of commercial vehicles have stronger regulations than your regular motorist. What are the rules that specifically apply to them, and are they prohibited from other activities as well? Let’s take a look at what some truck drivers have mentioned on some popular forums, as well as the rules and regulations that they are obligated to follow.
The Rules And Regulations About Alcohol Truck Drivers Should Know
Various rules and regulations govern what truck drivers are allowed to do, specifically regarding alcohol use. These regulations have grown more strict over the years, as in 2016, more than 10’000 people died in alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents in the U.S. alone. This begs the question of what is accepted by the government regarding alcohol use among truck drivers.
Due to commercial vehicles being far more dangerous than the average car, truck drivers are monitored more closely and strictly. Regular motorists are allowed to have a blood alcohol level of no more than 0.08%, whereas truck drivers have a limit of 0.04%.
The FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) states that commercial vehicle operators are not allowed to consume alcohol 4 hours before they’re needed on duty. However, “on duty” refers to more than just driving a truck.
“On duty” refers to all the responsibilities of a truck driver, such as waiting at the loading docks for a pick-up, loading and unloading the products at the agreed locations, inspecting the vehicle to make sure that it does not require maintenance, and repairing any faults that need maintenance.
A vital aspect of truck driving that causes a lot of concern for the drivers is that even when the truck is stationary, it’s still considered “driving,” and any direct or indirect accident can result in a DUI. Therefore, no alcohol should be in the truck, even if it is idling in a “safe” location.
These rules and regulations have made some truck drivers avoid alcohol altogether as the risk involved far outweighs the reward of one night’s enjoyment and relaxation. However, it is possible to manage alcohol consumption responsibly while off duty.
What Are The Consequences Of Being Under The Influence While On Duty?
Unfortunately, if truckers are caught driving under the influence, an arrest that becomes a conviction often results in unemployment. A commercial vehicle operator is responsible for informing their employer once convicted of a DUI or a DWI. When a driver’s license is suspended, it’s mentioned on their record, and finding employment will be difficult.
It’s vital to remember that any detectible alcohol can result in an OOS (0ut-Of-Service). This refers to any hint of alcohol use and even includes everyday products such as mouthwash. Therefore, many truckers stray from using alcoholic products and even keeping alcohol in their trucks while off duty.
Regarding the civil penalties, the FMCSA will ensure full compliance with the regulations as created by the U.S. Department of transportation. Enforcement cases are only deemed closed if FMCSA issues the driver a NOC (Notice Of Claim) and the following takes place:
- The driver pays the complete amount for the penalty, or
- The driver signs a settlement agreement, or
- The driver defaults on the notice of claim, which will result in an issue of a “final agency order.”
These enforcement cases are always initiated by investigating the incident, including compliance reviews, complaints, roadside inspections, and terminal audits. According to the FMCSA, fines can range from $100 to $25,000 depending on the violation, and the vehicle may also be subject to impoundment.
Due to companies enforcing random alcohol level tests and the strict regulations from the department of transportation, many truckers have advised against consuming any alcohol while on duty, even in between shifts.
When Is The Best Time for Truck Drivers To Drink Alcohol?
Truck drivers have specific regulations regarding the hours they are obligated to stay on the road and the time they should avoid the road altogether. To understand the ideal time for truckers to enjoy an alcoholic beverage, we have to look at the rules restricting them to specific working hours.
Truck drivers are not allowed to physically drive for more than eleven hours a day, and a full day of work, which includes all tasks, should not exceed fourteen hours. These daily hours should amount to no more than 70 hours a week, with 34 hours consecutive once the weekly limit is reached.
With regards to these hourly regulations, most truckers advise against consuming alcohol after your daily shifts. However, it would be within the rights of the truck drivers to do so as long as they have not consumed any alcohol four hours before their shift and at the start of their shift, their alcohol level is below 0.04%.
To avoid any complications and minimize risk, the ideal time to consume alcohol for truckers is in their 34 hour rest period, where they are obligated to stay away from working on the road and operating a commercial vehicle.
Although a truckers’ regulated rest period might be the ideal time to consume alcohol, truck drivers are not prohibited from drinking alcohol after their daily shifts. In fact, if truck drivers follow the criteria mentioned above, they can consume alcohol every day, although fellow truckers have advised against it.
Truck drivers are allowed to drink alcohol as long as they follow the simple rules of not consuming alcohol four hours before their shift and having a blood alcohol level of 0.04% or lower at the start of their shift. Because of the responsibility and danger involved in driving a commercial vehicle, many truckers have advised against drinking, although it’s not prohibited.